Safe Material Handling for Restaurant and Hospitality Staff

Although it may seem routine, lifting or carrying materials is one of the most injury-prone tasks hospitality employees undertake. Make sure your staff and management follow these practices and guidelines to help avoid injury:

  • Evaluate how material handling is accomplished for food preparation, food service, housekeeping, and cleanup. Identify key areas or operations that involve twisting, bending, carrying, or lifting of materials.
  • Establish and enforce a formal policy that outlines roles and responsibilities of all employees for manual material-handling tasks.
  • Develop and train employees in lifting and handling techniques for specific tasks such as unloading trucks, handling laundry, making beds, etc. Emphasize the risk of potential back injuries associated with lifting and unloading.
  • Review methods of receiving, storing, and using supplies and materials to minimize manual handling.
  • Purchase materials in smaller, lighter packages to reduce the need to lift heavy weights.
  • Organize your kitchen or storeroom to minimize the need to lift, handle, or carry materials for long distances/durations.
  • Use mechanical lifting/handling devices, such as furniture lifts, hand trucks, dollies, carts, and conveyors.
  • Require that waitstaff assist one another with food delivery and busy tables.
  • Conduct an incident investigation of material-handling incidents, and implement appropriate corrective action.
  • Have outside delivery persons unload trucks and move stock into storage, when possible.
  • Use specialized temporary employment services for unusually difficult tasks or for high-volume events.

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The illustrations, instructions, and principles in this material are general in scope and, to the best of our knowledge, current at the time of publication. No attempt has been made to interpret any referenced codes, standards, or regulations nor to identify all potential risks or requirements.